Friendship's Cycles & Redefinition
This post was originally started two weeks ago and shelved for many reasons! Today, I have finally come back to it out of love for a friend . . .
This morning (1/23), I visited Southern Fried Girl's blog and read a recent post on "girlfriends". Friendship, especially girlfriends, is such a touchy subject for many people! I have been thinking about this a lot, too. One of things that I realized (very recently) is that, as with many things in life, we go through friendship cycles. And more importantly, times when existing friendships need "redefinition".
For a long time, I was "mourning" the friendships that I once had in high school and college, longing for the same thing now. Reality set in that I am not the same person I was back then, my life is more complex, and my needs are different. In my everyday activities, this truth is easy to see; however, it was not obvious to me in the friendship category and this was causing me grief. I distinctly remember within the last year having conversations with my mom about friendship and asking her if she had "best friends", etc. before I came to my realization.
With every stage of life you get girlfriends, some you stay in touch with and others fade out. In elementary school, this person is usually someone that you live close to and/or ride the bus with. These years feel like the absolute most important and changes in these friendships are traumatizing . . . I remember fifth grade still b/c of the falling out I had with my best friend. As you mature, you usually don't have to limit your friendship to those that live around you and their presence in your life can make or break you during puberty :)
To me, college was similar to high school, if not easier, to make friends. We all lived, ate, played, drank, and went to class together. Life was good and friends were plentiful, I can even remember a few people that shared the best friend status (though I never remember using that label in college). Then life changes . . . you graduate and may keep some of your friends from your previous life, if your lucky. I know that I don't keep in touch with many and had to find new friends.
So, where am I going with this? The point I am trying to make is that not all friendships last and there are many times when you have to find new friends due to a change in your life. I now understand and accept this fact. Doing so has made me less anxious about finding the perfect person/people to be friends and allowing me to enjoy all my friends more.
Another important thing to acknowledge is that if a friendship is important, it will frequently need redefinition during key times in life (marriage or a new love, children, new job, additional friends, death, divorce, more children, etc.)! Odds are that after the circumstances have changed, you are not the same person. Some times this brings people closer; other times it pulls them apart.
My best friend has recently gone through a divorce. This came as a huge shock to DH and I, since we were close with both of them and were blind-sided by the quick actions and decision. When this was happening, I just gave birth to Loco (the day she told me he was moving out) . . . needless to say, I was a hormonal reck and shed several tears about her situation for her loss and our loss, too. I know it may seem selfish, but her and I were not only friends, but we were "couple friends". A friend of mine at work said that when she divorced, she lost all her friends and it was heartbreaking and bitter.
I was at a complex stage in my own life, needing a good friend, and she was at her own. For a while, things were different - I can't really explain it. I desperately wanted to be a good friend and consulted my mom (the expert on divorce, being on her fourth marriage) for advice. She had some good things to say, but they were what I considered to be obvious, like "Don't complain about your own husband for now, etc." That sucked b/c the last month, all we did was complain about our hubbies - I was miserably pregnant and she was just miserable!
So, here's what I have learned: If possible, try to avoid having a baby the same time one of your closest friends gets divorced!
Seriously, these past few months have taught me to be flexible, non-judgmental, self-less, and the enjoy the moment when I am with all my friends. Because, life is not simple; it's inevitable that it will have sharp turns, mountains, and moments when you feel like you are drowning. These times, define whom your true friends are.
"Everyone hears what you say.
Friends listen to what you say.
Best friends listen to what you don't say."